The Russian Duo In Minnesota: Alexey Shved + Andrei Kirilenko

As the quarterfinal rounds are set to begin tomorrow with Russia taking on a tough Lithuanian squad, Minnesota Timberwolves fans definitely know who they will be rooting for in that game and who they want to see take on Team USA in the final round.

For Timberwolves fans it will be pretty nice to see newly acquired players in point guard Alexey Shved and forward Andrei Kirilenko take on Timberwolves captain Kevin Love in the gold medal game at the 2012 London Olympic games.

With Team USA on one side and Russia on the other side, Timberwolves fans can’t stop to imagine on seeing Kirilenko, Shved, and Love on the same court for the first time ever. However, if they shall ever meet this Sunday (August 12), they all won’t be wearing the same uniform.

Kevin Love will be sporting the red white and blue while Shved and Kirilenko will be wearing the red and white plus some extra designs on the side. But come November 2, the opening night of the Timberwolves season, against the Sacramento Kings, they’ll all be wearing the same colors with the same state and team they’re representing written at the front.

Russia, who was undefeated through their first four games of pool play in Division B, lost their last game of pool play to the team Team USA will be taking on in the quarterfinals, Australia. Through the 2012 London Olympics, Russia has been led by these two Timberwolves with Kirilenko handling the defensive end, and also a “little” bit on the offensive end (35 points in a win against China). Offensively, Shved has been a great point guard and will definitely be a great point guard coming off the bench for Ricky Rubio and quite possibly be a solid replacement as Rubio may still be aiding his knee during the first months of the 2012-2013 regular season. In the game against Brazil, Shved made a perfect inbound pass to teammate Vitaly Fridzon who ended up knocking down a game winning 3 point shot which gave Russia the 75-74 victory. In that same game, Kirilenko made 5 three pointers which is actually one thing most people forget about him on the offensive end.

Kirilenko is not known for his offensive prowess, but his length and shooting abilities will be key for him with Russia and the Minnesota Timberwolves come November. All Timberwolves fans just can’t wait to see Kirilenko, Shved,and also newly signed center Greg Stiemsma and guard Brandon Roy take the floor as Timberwolves for the first time in their basketball careers. Defensively, Kirilenko has been well documented to be one of the best at that from inside the paint to outside the three point line, from a Kobe Bryant to a Chris Bosh, Kirilenko can defend.

In Russia’s recent defeat to Australia due to a Patrick Mills three pointer, point guard Alexey Shved had a rare off night. Through the first three games of pool play, Shved has been averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 assists per game through under 30 minutes of action. Russia is not a very deep team so it is understandable as to why Shved gets mutliple minutes. With the Timberwolves, the team he signed a 3 year $10 million contract with this summer, he won’t get that much minutes though, but his productivity is expected to be the same.

His energy and his determination will be a huge spark coming off the bench for the Timberwolves. Currently, the Wolves have 3 players who can fill the point guard position with Rubio, J.J Barea, and Luke Ridnour. All three fortunately for Shved are dealing with their own injuries which will make the Timberwolves rely on Shved a lot during some points of the season. Ridnour has been rumored to be on the trading block and in my opinion, I’m fine with him leaving as long as the Timberwolves get maybe more big men or another wing player.

The 2012 NBA Off-Season for the Timberwolves have thus far been the craziest this franchise and this state of Minnesota has ever seen. They’ve already waived, traded, and signed NBA players and all of these movements are all for one thing. The playoffs. The Timberwolves and David Kahn are not trying to look ahead to much for an NBA championship, as the playoffs are the first thing they must first learn to accomplish. Kahn has stated already that he believes this newly constructed roster under head coach Rick Adelman will push the Timberwolves to the 2013 NBA Playoffs and give the franchise more hope. Furthermore, it will convince Kevin Love to stay in Minnesota.

Shved and Kirilenko are more than just two Russian guys playing on an NBA team this season, but they are two players that will give the Timberwolves franchise and their fans more hope of making a run at what every player in the NBA wants. I know a championship is still far away but the additions of these two great Russian basketball players is a good sign that the Timberwolves are looking to make good out this upcoming NBA season.

Shved will still however have to learn how tough it is to be in the NBA and compete with other point guards such as Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, and even Darren Collison. It will be tough for Shved to adjust but just like Rubio, he will eventually get into a rhythm alongside young players who are also looking to develop like second year forward Derrick Williams and even All-Star Kevin Love.

The Russian duo currently must focus their attention on the gold medal they can achieve, even though Minnesota Timberwolves fans in the United States are rooting against them. Not to worry guys, we’ll have your backs a lot of times as the NBA season turns around … just as long as you guys play the way we expect and need you to be …

See you two soon … we’ll be waiting …

The Minnesota Timberwolves open the 2012-2013 NBA Regular Season at Target Center against the Sacramento Kings on November 2 at 7:00 PM so mark your calendars now!

For more NBA analysis and opinions, check out Theon’s general NBA blog, THEONBA!

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Tags: Alexey Shved Andrei Kirilenko Derrick Williams Kevin Love Lithuania Russia USA

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